Executive Secretariat for Integral Development (SEDI)

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Dialogue within the framework of the XLI General Assembly of the OAS

Dialogue among the Secretary General, the Heads of Delegation and the Workers Representatives within the framework of the XLI General Assembly of the OAS
San Salvador, El Salvador, June 5, 2011

Relevant Information

The Heads of Delegation of the OAS member states and representatives of the workers of the Americas met in the framework of the forty-first regular session of the OAS General Assembly to engage in dialogue regarding their concerns about citizen security.

The dialogue was moderated by the Minister of Foreign Affairs of El Salvador, Hugo Martínez, and enjoyed the distinguished participation of OAS Secretary General José Miguel Insulza, Secretary for External Relations Alfonso Quiñónez, representatives of 23 member states, and trade union leaders of the region.

The spokespersons for the trade union movement were Antonio Jara, representing the Chair of COSATE, Sarahi Molina, General Secretary of the Movement for Trade Union and Guild Unity of El Salvador (MUSYGES), and Rafael Freire, Secretary for Economic Policy and Sustainable Development of the Trade Union Confederation of the Americas (TUCA), who presented the Workers’ Declaration.

In their interventions, and in the Declaration presented, the workers’ delegates noted that inequality, unemployment, and poverty are structural causes of insecurity and that anti-union violence persisted, indicating their concern and condemnation in that regard.  They referred to Honduras’ return to full membership of the OAS and requested the Organization to implement all established mechanisms of the inter-American system to guarantee that the impunity resulting from the coup d’état was not perpetuated.  They emphasized that trade union rights and collective bargaining were fundamental elements of democracy and had to be defended with all conviction.  They supported the formation of an inter-American fund for labor inclusion of persons with disabilities, and pointed to the need to protect the labor rights of migrants and to work towards gender equality.  Lastly, they reaffirmed the commitment of the labor movement to participate actively in the design and implementation of policies for peace and citizen security.

During the dialogue, the delegations of Argentina, Uruguay, Brazil, Venezuela, Trinidad and Tobago, and Bolivia made explicit their agreement with the Workers’ Declaration. The delegation of Colombia noted advances made in unionization and the growing condemnation of anti-union violence, and indicated the government’s staunch commitment to ensuring that even a single murder more was prevented.  The Minister of Foreign Affairs of Honduras indicated his government’s commitment to continue the investigations under way in order to overcome impunity.  The delegations of Mexico and Nicaragua commended the forum and the participation by workers, concurring with their proposals regarding employment and trade union rights. 

Following the interventions by the states, Rafael Freire, representing the workers, expressed appreciation for the matters raised and addressed several of them.  This was the first time that space had been allotted for workers to take the floor again, essential if true dialogue was to be consolidated.

For his part, Secretary General Insulza thanked the workers for their interventions, emphasized the alarming situation of unemployment in the region, and agreed with the workers regarding the relationship between unemployment and crime, emphasizing the vulnerable situation of youth.  He also undertook to ensure that greater emphasis was given to employment in the Declaration of San Salvador, with the proviso that such a decision was incumbent upon the member states.

Minister Martínez indicated that this dialogue was valuable in advancing towards peace in the Americas and reaffirmed commitment of El Salvador to labor issues, as host of the OAS’ upcoming Inter-American Conference of Labor Ministers to take place in October 31 and November 1, 2011.

Preparatory Meeting: On June 4, from 2:00 to 6:00 pm, the workers’ representatives met in the Crowne Plaza Hotel to finalize the Declaration that they presented during the Dialogue. The meeting was coordinated by the DSDE/SEDI of the OAS, COSATE and TUCA.